On a Roll! Coney Island Lunch is a 90-Year, Hot-Dog-Serving Staple

When Steve Karamplias emigrated from Greece after WWI, he worked in restaurants near Coney Island in Brooklyn. Wanting to be closer to a Greek community, he came to the Scranton area and opened Coney Island Lunch in 1923. 90 years later, one can still find the traditional Coney Island wiener in Scranton’s downtown.

Karamplias’ grandson, Pete Ventura, has continued the family business, not just in name, but also in practice. “The recipe has remained unchanged since we started. The challenge is to keep the same taste,” says Ventura. While none of Coney Island’s original suppliers still exist, Ventura makes it his mission to find vendors that match the original taste. Their two longest suppliers, National Bakery and Schiff’s, provide the rolls and hamburger meat, respectively. Coney Island’s staff uses these ingredients to make signature chili sauce. Ventura feels this is the reason that generations of customers, whom he considers family, keep coming back. Ventura has personally made and sold nearly 4 million Texas Wieners and hamburgers!

As for the bad rap hot dogs have gotten over the years, Ventura explains customers in NEPA have been lucky, as the hot dogs made in the area have always enjoyed a good reputation. “In 1973 the federal government stepped in and took over meat inspection nationwide, because the meat packing in the south was so bad,” he explains. For over 50 years, Coney Island’s dogs came from Schumacher’s Meats, a German, South Scranton butcher shop. Since the shop is no longer around, Coney Island now uses Berks All-Beef wieners from Reading, PA, which Ventura says has an outstanding product line and a great reputation.

In addition to the taste, Ventura credits his staff with Coney Island’s success and popularity. “They’re all great and stay for years. Our customers get the sense of coming home when they stop in and are always greeted with a familiar face.” Call 570-961-9004.
–Nicole Krempasky